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South Sydney DVD shop’s last stand

An interview with owner Peter Aspres as South Sydney DVD closes after 30 years serving Redfern and Waterloo.

 

Peter Aspres, South Sydney DVD. Photo: Suellen Symons
Peter Aspres, South Sydney DVD. Photo: Suellen Symons

Can you give me a short history of the shop? 

It was an old independent video store first owned by Vince and Carol MacDonald who used to race greyhounds.

The Redfern store was then at 24-26 Botany Rd Waterloo where the radio station is now.

I took it over in 1988 and turned it into ‘Movieland’. Then I moved it up to 154 Redfern St and turned it into a Video EZY franchise, as it was such a dominant player we had to join or go under. When I took it over they still had VHS video and I can remember splicing them to repair videos.

It used to cost us $90 for one VHS tape which rented out for $7 a night or $4 a week for older stuff.

 

What are the highlights of your time at the South Sydney DVD shop?

It was fantastic seeing the young families and mothers come in – we watched whole families grow up. I had my own family, my son Christian was there in a pram, as we were open 7 days a week with my first wife.

 

Who has been using the shop over the years?

Demographics have changed, as society changed. The internet came and competition for peoples’ time became critical. Sydney became an expensive city to live in. Mum and Dad were then both working and kids were in childcare. This lifestyle change massively impacted on this business. Now Mum is at work too, she hasn’t got the energy or time to come in and hire DVDs and children have so many more activities including iPads and other electronic devices. The technology changed our lives and social habits have changed as a result.

Vicki Aspres, outside the shop. Photo: Suellen Symons

Vicki Aspres, outside the shop. Photo: Suellen Symons

Vicki my second wife took it over as a Video EZY franchise in about 2002 when it moved to Redfern Street. Six years ago the landlord doubled the rent so we almost closed down but found the present place, a derelict building we renovated in 2012 and then moved into. 37 Botany Road Waterloo was more for love than money because we were so passionate about the business.

Not long ago we were nice enough to lend our video shop out to movie students who were making a short film while we were away. The computer was making a noise so the students covered it with a blanket, which cooked the hard drive, so we lost all our data as the backup didn’t work either and as a result were forced to close down! However, this was, in hindsight fortuitous because we then had time to look around outside Sydney towards Thredbo. We went mountain bike riding in summer which I loved and then the family thought let’s move here! Everyone in the family likes skiing!

Peter Aspres, South Sydney DVD. Photo: Suellen Symons

Peter Aspres, South Sydney DVD. Photo: Suellen Symons

What happens next for you and your family?

We’ve moved to Jindabyne- away from traffic and people who don’t have time to be polite, to a quieter healthier life including skiing, with our two children Zoe, 9 and Sara 10.

 

How many DVD shops were there 30 years ago?

Video Easy had 400 stores; Civic had 250, around Australia.

 

What’s been the best seller over the years?

In Redfern action movies and the big blockbusters are always popular.

 

What do you love about the movies?

Movies are a beautiful form of escapism that can bring together all generations. I also enjoy noting the vast amount of different opinions that people have over the same movie. Movies can provoke understanding across cultures.

 

How much are you selling the remaining stock for?

Most are going for a dollar and nothing is over $5.

 

The final days for South Sydney DVD are Thursday 10th, Friday 11th and Saturday 12th May 2018 10am-6pm this week only!  37 Botany Road Waterloo.

Come in and buy yourself a small piece of history and say farewell to a local historic icon.

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